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Article

Kenneth G. Hay

Italian movement that emerged in the late 1920s from the second wave of Futurism (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder), which it eventually supplanted. It was announced by the publication on 22 September 1929 of the Manifesto dell’Aeropittura, signed by Giacomo Balla, Benedetta (Marinetti’s wife, the painter and writer Benedetta Cappa, 1897–1977), Fortunato Depero, Gerardo Dottori, Fillia, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Enrico Prampolini, the painter and sculptor Mino Somenzi (1899–1948) and the painter Tato (pseud. of Guglielmo Sansoni, 1896–1974). This text became the key document for the new adherents of Futurism in the 1930s. Although Marinetti had written the first Futurist manifestos, and Balla, Depero and Prampolini were senior figures within the movement, it was Dottori and younger painters who developed the new form most impressively. Building on earlier concerns with the speeding automobile, both Marinetti and the Fascist government gave particular importance to aeronautics in the 1920s, extolling the pilot as a type of Nietzschean ‘Superman’....

Article

John Milner

[Rus. agitatsionnaya propaganda: ‘agitational propaganda’]

Russian acronym in use shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 for art applied to political and agitational ends. The prefix agit- was also applied to objects decorated or designed for this purpose, hence agitpoyezd (‘agit-train’) and agitparokhod (‘agit-boat’), decorated transport carrying propaganda to the war-front. Agitprop was not a stylistic term; it applied to various forms as many poets, painters and theatre designers became interested in agitational art. They derived new styles and techniques for it from Futurism, Suprematism and Constructivism.

The characteristics of the new art forms were defined as public, political and communal in purpose and execution. The poet Mayakovsky called for artists to abandon their studios and make the streets their brushes and the squares their palettes. Mass spectacular theatre provided vigorous examples of agitprop either by re-enacting recent events or by providing pageants of the progress of Communism. In 1920, for example, the theatre director ...

Article

(b Geneva, Feb 25, 1872; d Lausanne, Jan 1, 1938).

Swiss painter and multimedia artist . From 1890/91 she studied under Hugues Bovy (1841–1903) and Denise Sarkissof at the Ecole d’Art in Geneva. A travel scholarship enabled her to study in Munich for a year. From 1904 until the outbreak of World War I Bailly lived in Paris, where she associated with Cubist artists, including Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, Marie Laurencin and Sonia Lewitska (1882–1914). From 1905 to 1926 she exhibited regularly at the Salon d’Automne. From 1906 to 1910 her work was influenced by Fauvism, and from 1910 she became interested in Cubism and Futurism: Equestrian Fantasy with Pink Lady (1913; Zurich, Gal. Strunskaja) is reminiscent of the work of Gino Severini or Franz Marc in its rhythmic movement and planar fragmentation of horses and riders into coloured patterns. Other paintings of this period that are also indebted to these movements include ...

Article

Libero Andreotti

(b Rovereto, Dec 10, 1896; d Milan, Sept 26, 1982).

Italian architect, stage designer and painter . After studying at the Scuola Reale Elisabettiana, an applied arts school in Rovereto, he joined the Futurist movement, headed locally by Fortunato Depero. After serving in World War I, he enrolled at the Scuola Superiore di Architettura del Politecnico, Milan, graduating in architecture in 1922. He then spent four years (1922–6) in Berlin working as a stage designer and frequenting the avant-garde milieu around Max Reinhardt, Erwin Piscator and Oskar Kokoschka. He returned to Italy in 1926 and set up his own practice. His first important commission, the remodelling of the Bar Craja (1930; with Figini and Pollini) in Milan, with its handsome glass and steel interior, established Baldessari’s reputation as an innovative designer. He collaborated again with Figini and Pollini on the De Angeli-Frua office building (1931–2) in Milan, a fine example of Italian Rationalism at its most restrained. Baldessari’s architectural masterpiece of this period was, however, the Press Pavilion (...

Article

Piero Pacini

(b Turin, Aug 18, 1871; d Rome, March 1, 1958).

Italian painter, sculptor, stage designer, decorative artist and actor. He was one of the originators of Futurism (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder) and was particularly concerned with the representation of light and movement. His personal interest in scientific methods of analysis contributed to both the practical and ideological bases of the movement. His oeuvre from the Futurist period overshadowed the work of later years.

Balla was self-taught and began painting in Turin. In 1895 he settled in Rome. At the age of about 25 he painted some lively sketches of urban life that are characterized by a thick impasto, for example the series Machietta romana (1898; Rome, priv. col., see Lista, 1982, nos 12–17) and landscapes showing familiarity with the divisionism practised by the northern Italian artists Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo, Giovanni Segantini and Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, for example Luci di marzo (...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Warsaw, Oct 30, 1894; d Paris, Aug 2, 1967).

Polish painter, designer and writer, active in France. He studied at the School of Art, Warsaw (1904–9), in Antwerp, and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1911–12). In the 1910s he was attracted to Futurism and the work of the Russian avant-garde, and he became one of the originators of Polish Constructivism. His early works show the influence of the Section d’Or, Cubism and Purism. He was a member of the Jung Jiddisch group in 1921–2. He lived in Berlin in 1922–3, exhibiting twice at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellungen. Back in Warsaw, he joined the Constructivist Block group.

In 1924 Berlewi had a one-man show at the premises of the Warsaw branch of the Austro-Daimler automobile company and published the booklet Mechano-Faktura (‘Mechano-Texture’). Both of these events were declarations of the union between art and technology. His works from 1924–6 are abstract compositions of basic geometrical forms and basic colours—as if in preparation for mechanical multiplication. In ...

Article

Ester Coen

(b Reggio Calabria, Oct 19, 1882; d Sorte, Verona, Aug 17, 1916).

Italian sculptor, painter, printmaker and writer. As one of the principal figures of Futurism, he helped shape the movement’s revolutionary aesthetic as a theorist as well as through his art. In spite of the brevity of his life, his concern with dynamism of form and with the breakdown of solid mass in his sculpture continued to influence other artists long after his death.

Boccioni spent his childhood years in Forlì, Genoa and Padua, then finished his studies in Catania and began to involve himself with literature. In 1899 he moved to Rome, where he developed a passionate interest in painting and frequented the Scuola Libera del Nudo. In Rome he met Gino Severini, with whom he made visits to the studio of Giacomo Balla, who taught them the basic principles of the divisionist technique and encouraged them to experiment with the application of colour in small overlapping brushstrokes. Inspired by his own pictorial experiments, Balla also urged them to develop a compositional method using angles and foreshortening analogous to photographic techniques. It was Balla who first introduced them to the use of complementary colours, which Boccioni later expressed in increasingly dramatic and violent ways, and it was Balla who instilled in him the love of landscape and nature that remained a constant feature of all his painting. In his first years of activity, closely following his master’s teaching, Boccioni produced oil paintings, sketches, pastels, studies in tempera and advertising posters....

Article

Jeremy Howard

(Maksimovich)

(b Moscow, Jan 16, 1888; d Moscow, Feb 22, 1945).

Russian theorist and critic. He trained as a lawyer at Moscow University but never practised law, devoting himself instead to art and literature. Prior to the October Revolution of 1917 his apartment was a meeting-place for Futurist poets and he was an active member of the Formalist group OPOYAZ (the Society for the Study of Poetical Language). After the Revolution he worked in the Fine Arts department (IZO) of Narkompros and as a commissar of the Petrograd (now St Petersburg) Svomas (Free Art Studios) in 1919. In 1918 he established the group IMO (Iskusstvo Molodykh: Art of the Young). Gaining Anatoly Lunacharsky’s support and a subsidy from Narkompros, this group was able to publish its views through the radical newspaper Iskusstvo kommuny (‘Art of the Commune’) (1918–19). Brik promoted Russian Futurism as a revolutionary Communist art and actively participated in the setting up of Kom-Fut, a Communist Futurist collective in Petrograd in ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Florence, July 4, 1895; d St Tropez, May 31, 1971).

Italian painter. He was brought up in Milan after his family moved there in 1904. At the age of 19 he published a poem in the Florentine Futurist periodical Lacerba and met Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà. During World War I he was sent to the front (1916) and after capture and imprisonment in Hungary, he escaped to Russia. When the war ended he resumed his literary activities, becoming a journalist with the newspaper Corriere della Sera, which in 1919 posted him to Paris. There he started teaching himself to paint, at first producing works that showed the influence of Picasso and Fernand Léger. In 1923 he had his first one-man show at the Galleria Bragaglia in Rome. By the mid-1920s he had evolved a style characterized by well-rounded forms like those of wooden dolls. While Campigli’s often bizarre subject-matter recalls Pittura Metafisica, the influence of the Purist journal ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(Dalmazzo)

(b Quarguento, Piedmont, Feb 11, 1881; d Milan, April 13, 1966).

Italian painter, critic and writer. He was apprenticed to a team of decorators at the age of 12, after the death of his mother. His work took him to Milan, London and Switzerland, as well as to the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. He visited museums, and in Milan in 1906 he enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, studying under Cesare Tallone. By 1908 he was arranging shows for the Famiglia Artistica, an exhibiting group. He met Umberto Boccioni and Luigi Russolo, and together they came to know Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and to write the Manifesto dei pittori futuristi (1910; see Futurism). Carrà continued, however, to use the technique of Divisionism despite the radical rhetoric of Futurism. In an attempt to find new inspiration Marinetti sent them to visit Paris in autumn 1911, in preparation for the Futurist exhibition of 1912. Cubism was a revelation, and in ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Florence, Oct 16, 1900; d Fiesole, Nov 13, 1988).

Italian painter. A child prodigy, he published music and exhibited paintings at the age of 13, and met Umberto Boccioni and Ardengo Soffici. He produced Fauvist works (e.g. Self-portrait in a Bathing Robe, 1915; Fiesole, Fond. Primo Conti) before forming a wartime Florentine Futurist group with Achille Lega (1899–1934) and Ottone Rosai. His dynamic paintings, such as Refugees at the Station (1918; Fiesole, Fond. Primo Conti), coincided with contributions to L’Italia futurista, of which he became editor before being called up in 1918. After World War I, Conti’s shifting interests were reflected in his periodicals Il centone (1919; edited with Corrado Pavolini (b 1898)) and L’enciclopedia (1920–23). He met Filippo de Pisis and developed a mysterious realism influenced by Pittura Metafisica, although it was the contemporary treatment of his Rape of the Sabines (1925; priv. col.; see 1980–81 exh. cat., p. 179) that caused controversy at the Rome Biennale of ...

Article

Anthony Parton

Term first used in 1913 in a lecture, later published, by the Russian art critic Korney Chukovsky (1882–1969) in reference to a group of Russian avant-garde poets whose work was seen to relate to French Cubism and Italian Futurism; it was subsequently adopted by painters and is now used by art historians to refer to Russian art works of the period 1912–15 that combine aspects of both styles. Initially the term was applied to the work of the poets Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksey Kruchonykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, Benedikt Livshits (1886–1939) and Vasily Kamensky (1864–1961), who were grouped around the painter David Burlyuk. Their raucous poetry recitals, public clowning, painted faces and ridiculous clothes emulated the activities of the Italians and earned them the name of Russian Futurists. In poetic output, however, only Mayakovsky could be compared with the Italians; his poem ‘Along the Echoes of the City’, for example, which describes various street noises, is reminiscent of Luigi Russolo’s manifesto ...

Article

Ester Coen

(b Fondo, Val di Non, Trentino, March 30, 1892; d Rovereto, Nov 29, 1960).

Italian painter, stage designer, illustrator, decorative artist and writer. After difficult years of study, during which he made his first artistic experiments, he travelled to Turin in 1910 and worked as an apprentice decorator at the Esposizione Internazionale. In spite of spending a year as apprentice to a marble-worker, on his return to Rovereto, he decided to become a painter, choosing subjects associated with Symbolism and social realism. Shortly after publishing Spezzature–Impressioni: Segni e ritmi (Rovereto, 1913), a collection of poetry, prose and illustrations, he moved to Rome, where he met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti at the Galleria Permanente Futurista, run by Giuseppe Sprovieri; through Marinetti he met the Futurists, with whom he exhibited at the same gallery in the spring of 1914 (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder). This was followed by a one-man show at Trento in July 1914, which closed after a few days because of the outbreak of World War I. He succeeded in returning to Rome, where he was officially welcomed into the ...

Article

Valerio Rivosecchi

(b Perugia, Nov 11, 1884; d Perugia, June 13, 1977).

Italian painter. He was born into a family of modest economic means and received his first lessons in drawing in the workshop of a Perugian antiquarian. From 1904 to 1912 he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Perugia, supporting himself by working as a mural painter. On completing his studies he aligned himself with Futurism and stimulated the dull and provincial artistic atmosphere of Perugia by founding a group and a journal entitled La Griffa. Even before completing his studies he produced dynamic paintings of movement, such as Explosion of Red on Green (1910; London, Tate), a virtually abstract work. He participated in the first Mostra Internazionale Futurista Exhibition in Rome, alongside Balla, Fortunato Depero and Enrico Prampolini, and his first one-man show (Rome, Gal. A. Bragaglia, 1920) was opened by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.

Dottori’s style is characterized by its attention to nature and to landscape, subjects that were usually extraneous to the urban and mechanical themes of Futurism. In the works exhibited by him at the Venice Biennale in ...

Article

(Alexandrovna)

(b Belostok, Russia [now Białystok, Poland], Jan 6, 1882; d Fontenay-aux-Roses, Paris, March 17, 1949).

Russian painter and designer of Polish birth. After graduating in 1906 from art school in Kiev, Exter married in 1908 and went to Paris, where she studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. The following year she rented a studio in Paris and became acquainted with Picasso, Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and with the Italian Futurists Filippo Marinetti, Giovanni Papini and Ardengo Soffici (with whom she shared a studio in 1914). In Paris she also attended the Vasil’yeva Free Russian Academy, where Fernand Léger gave two important lectures on modern art. In the years 1909–14 Exter travelled extensively between Paris, Moscow and Kiev, playing an important role in disseminating Cubist and Futurist ideas among the Russian avant-garde. She participated in many important avant-garde exhibitions in Russia and the Ukraine, including David Burlyuk’s Link (Kiev, 1908), the first and second Izdebsky Salons (Odessa, 1909–10; Kiev and St Petersburg, ...

Article

Fillia  

Daniela De Dominicis

[Colombo, Luigi]

(b Revello, Oct 4, 1904; d Turin, Feb 1, 1936).

Italian painter, sculptor and writer. He moved to Turin and in 1922 began his literary career by contributing to a booklet of poems entitled 1+1+1=1 Dinamite (Turin, 1922). He started painting as a self-taught artist, using his mother’s surname as a pseudonym. In 1923 he founded the Turin Futurist group, whose other later adherents included the Bulgarian-born painter and architect Nicolay Diulgheroff (1901–82) and the Italian sculptor Mino Rossi (1904–63), with the publication of the manifesto Futurista torinese—Sindacati artistici. Through this group he assumed an important role in the ‘second Futurism’ (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder).

The inspiration for Fillia’s earliest paintings was ‘mechanical life’, which he portrayed by abstracting from the subject using geometrical forms and a lively range of colours. He was clearly aware not only of the work of Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero, but also of the contemporary Constructivist art promoted in the periodicals ...

Article

Ester Coen and John Musgrove

Italian movement, literary in origin, that grew to embrace painting, sculpture, photography and architecture, which was launched by the publication on 20 February 1909 of ‘Le Futurisme’ by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. Marinetti’s intention was to reject the past, to revolutionize culture and make it more modern. The new ideology of Futurism set itself with violent enthusiasm against the weighty inheritance of an art tied to the Italian cultural tradition and exalted the idea of an aesthetic generated by the modern myth of the machine and of speed.

Marinetti laid the foundations of the new literary poetics in his first manifesto, written in late 1908. Every new creation or action, he wrote, was now based on the ‘beauty of speed’; museums, libraries, ‘venerated’ cities and academies had to be destroyed, as they belonged to traditional culture. An art born of progress was now to take the place of all the artistic forms of the past, even the most recent ones, because they were stale and static. These words were immediately taken up by a group of young painters based in Milan—...

Article

Cassandra Gero

Futurism was an Italian art movement that defined modernity as motion, speed and dynamism. It began in 1909 with the first manifesto about the Futurist aesthetic and included such artists as Umberto Boccioni, Luigi Russolo, Carlo Carrà and Giacomo Balla. Futurists believed that the same principles that informed their art should extend to the clothing they made for themselves and promoted for everyone else through their writing. They embraced fashion and believed it to be an art form as it suited several of their ideals: promoting the new and discarding the old, blurring the line between art and industry and providing the opportunity to make both social and aesthetic statements. The Futurists did not envision clothes that would last for years, indeed the ideal Futurist fashion would be fleeting. This built-in obsolescence would require constant creativity on the part of the designer, provide novelty to the wearer and help to stimulate the Italian economy. Futurist colours were bright, bold and clashing—joyful but at the same time aggressive. Fabrics were sometimes metallic and shimmering, often with patterns juxtaposing geometric forms. Futurist clothing was light, breathable and offered the wearer freedom of movement. Gone were symmetry, harmony, logic, order and tradition. Jackets were asymmetric with changeable shapes. Shoes were sometimes unmatched. The Futurists were out to shock and even annoy people, and free them from what they viewed as stuffy traditions....

Article

Anthony Parton

(Sergeyevna)

(b Negayevo, Tula Province, June 16, 1881: d Paris, Oct 17, 1962).

Russian painter, stage designer, printmaker and illustrator. She was a leading artist of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century but became a celebrity in the West through her work for Serge (de) Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. During the 1920s she played a significant role within the Ecole de Paris and continued to live and work in France until her death.

She was the daughter of Sergey Mikhaylovich Goncharov, an architect, and Yekaterina Il’icha Belyayeva but grew up in her grandmother’s home at Ladyzhino, near Kaluga, in Tula Province. She attended the Fourth Gymnasium for Girls in Moscow and in 1898 entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture as a sculpture student where she was taught by Paolo Troubetskoy. At the school Goncharova became friendly with Mikhail Larionov. He became her lifelong companion and colleague, and he encouraged her to relinquish sculpture for painting. Goncharova’s early work comprised mainly pastels, which were exhibited in ...

Article

Charlotte Humphreys

(Viktor Vladimirovich)

(b Tundutov, Astrakhan, Nov 9, 1885; d Santalovo, Novgorod province, June 28, 1922).

Russian poet. He studied mathematics, biology and philology at Kazan’ University before devoting himself to literature. He became a member of the Hylaea circle of Futurist poets grouped around the artist David Burlyuk, which was responsible for the production of a large number of Russian Futurist books between c. 1912 and 1916. Khlebnikov’s theory of a transrational language (zaum), formulated in 1913 with his fellow poet Aleksey Kruchonykh, had a profound influence on the work of avant-garde artists, especially Kazimir Malevich, Jean Pougny (Ivan Puni), Pavel Filonov, Vladimir Tatlin and Pyotr Miturich. Literally ‘beyond the mind’ or ‘beyond sense’, zaum was used by Khlebnikov to signify the rejection of a conventional logic that defines words in terms of a specific meaning. It involved the ‘liberation’ of words, of parts of words and of individual letters and sounds from their accepted meaning, so that they could take on new meanings within a higher system of logic that literally transcends reason. Khlebnikov’s theories for a universal, transnational language were expounded in several articles written between ...